Are The Trendy Shallow?

A lot of the press on Tyler’s new book has focused on his suggestion to avoid restaurants with pretty women:

Beware the Beautiful, Laughing Women

When I’m out looking for food, and I come across a restaurant where the patrons are laughing and smiling and appear very sociable, I become wary. … Many restaurants, especially in downtown urban areas, fill seats—and charge high prices—by creating social scenes for drinking, dating, and carousing. They’re not using the food to draw in their customers. The food in most of these places is “not bad,” because the restaurant needs to maintain a trendy image. … I also start to worry if many women in a restaurant are beautiful in a trendy or stylish way. The point is not that beautiful women have bad taste in food. Instead, the problem is that they will attract a lot of men to the restaurant, whether or not the place serves excellent food. And that allows the restaurant to cut back on the quality of the food. … When you enter a restaurant, you don’t want to see expressions of disgust on the diners’ faces, but you do want to see a certain seriousness of purpose. … This review on Zagat.com says it all:

One of my favorite places in DC—awesome lounge, great decor, and food is delicious.

At least they got the order straight and put the food last. (more)

Matt thought he disagreed, but Tyler clarified. It seems to me that people focus on this issue because it is a veiled insult. Chuck Rudd says it more directly:

Initially, I rebelled against Cowen’s implication that men have unrefined palates or that they just don’t care about food quality. I don’t want to make some sort of gender issue out of it, but his argument implies that these trend-seeking women’s palates are unrefined as well. (more)

Notice that the claim is that places with more pretty women cut back on food quality, but not on decor, location, or service quality. So it isn’t that places just generically slack off when they are more popular. It must instead be that pretty trendy people, compared to other people, can less distinguish or less care about food quality, relative to other types of quality. And since food quality seems harder to observe that decor, service, etc. quality, the implication is that pretty trendy people are more shallow, i.e., less discerning about or interested in harder to observe qualities.

Sounds plausible, though, since I don’t get many offers to hang out with pretty trendy people, I don’t have first hand evidence one way or the other. I’m open to chances to collect evidence though. You know, in case any of you pretty trendy people have a slot open …

Note that Tyler probably got more attention for a veiled insult than if he had insulted directly. Homo hypocritus delights in indirectly jockeying for status and support.

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